Three questions to Xavier Combet (TDS Racing) after Daytona and Sebring
Between its two LMP2s, TDS Racing has only had top five finishes in IMSA since the start of the 2023 season at the 24 Hours of Daytona. First of all, it was the #35 car, driven all year by François Heriau, which finished at the foot of the podium. The French driver was accompanied by Josh Pierson, Giedo van der Garde and Job van Uitert. At the 12 Hours of Sebring, it was the sister car of Steven Thomas, Mikkel Jensen and Scott Huffaker that took third place. The French team led by Xavier Combet and Jacques Morello will arrive at Laguna Seca in second place in the championship with the #11. Both Oreca 07s are in the top five of the Endurance Championship, which will not resume until next summer at Watkins Glen. TDS Racing won the prize for combining speed, endurance and teamwork at Sebring.
With no programme in Europe this season, apart from the technical support of Tower Motorsports at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, TDS Racing is living the American dream with its two LMP2 cars. After the first two meetings, Xavier Combet draws up the first assessment of a season that has already seen 36 hours of competition in just two events.
The start of the season is positive?
Overall, the performance is good. We have two lineups capable of fighting for victory in LMP2 as we saw at Daytona and Sebring. Speed is an important factor to take into account because the fastest drivers are often there in the final stages. In IMSA, the finishes are hard and fierce. The drivers who are on the track at that moment contribute strongly to the final result. We experienced this at Daytona where the #35 was fighting for the LMP2 win until Job had a problem in traffic. At Sebring, the opposite happened when the #35 was fighting for the win. We can be satisfied with the second place of the #11 even if the neutralisations at the end of the race did not help to stick to the leader.
The team is now set on the IMSA rules?
We know that the competition will be tough until the end. In IMSA, even the last car scores points, which is different from what we know in Europe. We are much better on the IMSA rules because of our experience in 2022 in the long races. We are familiar with the different aspects: technical, sporting, radio management, pit lane. The more we progress in time, the more comfortable we are. The objective now is to go and get the victory that we are missing because we are there to help our clients win.
The American strategy remains a headache?
Having a perfect strategy is important to win. You have to be able to put together a lot of small details to win the race. The sporting rules in IMSA are very open and we like that. At Sebring, it feels like the 12 Hours is four hours long, it's so intense. You are always on the lookout, you can win laps or try to limit the comeback of the others cars. In the United States, the strategist works a lot with the car's engineer. One thing is certain, our drivers are enjoying the championship. We feel good there and everyone is always very motivated to go back and race there.
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